A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says he's supportive of $250,000 added to the state General Fund budget for hiring a prison ombudsman in the governor's office.
Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr added the money to the General Fund budget when his committee approved it on Wednesday. Orr says the ombudsman would start by focusing on complaints from inmates at Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka. Some inmates at Tutwiler have complained about sexual abuse. Orr says the ombudsman would give the governor a direct line to what's going on in Tutwiler.
Prisons officials are adding surveillance cameras at Tutwiler prison and taking steps to increase some privacy for female prisoners.
In a report released this year, the U.S. Department of Justice criticized the operations of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.
The report said the facility was not suited for housing female offenders since it offered them little privacy to shower, use the bathroom and had numerous blind spots that could make it possible for sexual activity to go undetected.
Alabama may be at risk of losing some of its federal prison funding if it doesn't respond to questions from the U.S. Department of Justice about sexual abuse.
AL.com reports federal officials sent letters to every governor last week asking if their state is complying with the Prison Rape Elimination Act — a federal law that was enacted in 2003 to crack down on sexual assault against prison inmates.